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15 March, 2017

More Evacuation Orders to Be Lifted in Namie and Tomioka Towns

On March 10, the Japanese government’s nuclear emergency response headquarters decided to lift evacuation orders in two categories in Namie and Tomioka Towns: specifically, those areas where "living is not permitted" and those where "evacuation order will soon be lifted." The orders will be lifted at 12:00 a.m. on March 31 and April 1 in Namie and Tomioka, respectively.

Since similar orders in the same two categories will also be lifted on March 31 in Iitate Village and Kawamata Town, the latest decision means that the only areas where evacuation orders are still in effect are those where “residents will not be able to return home for a long time.” Specifically, that refers to all of Okuma and Futaba Towns, as well as certain areas of Minami-Soma City, Tomioka Town, Namie Town, Katsurao Village and Iitate Village.

Apart from those, sections of the JR Joban Line unusable since the earthquake will be reopened when the orders are lifted in Namie and Tomioka Towns: namely, the line between Odaka and Namie on April 1, and the line between Tomioka and Tatsuta in some time in October.

According to the Japanese Ministry of the Environment, area-wide decontamination has already been completed as of the end of January in nine of the eleven municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture that are now designated as “special decontamination areas,” which are directly managed by the national government. The term does not include areas where residents will not be able to return home for a long time.

The decontamination work is expected to be completed in the remaining two municipalities—Minami-Soma City and Namie Town—by the end of this month.

As for the transport of soil removed in decontamination work to sites planned for the interim storage of radioactive waste, a total of about 210,000 cubic meters has already been transported as of the beginning of March. In FY17 (April 2017 to March 2018), some 500,000 cubic meters of removed soil will be transported, in anticipation of the beginning of storage next fall, with priority to be placed on soil now stored at schools.

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